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“I don’t think we need to change the rules of the game, I think we need to get better.”

[ 64 ] January 30, 2013 |

So states the (Republican) Speaker of the Florida State House, coming out in opposition to the RNC’s strategy of assigning Electoral College votes by Congressional district in Blue / Red states (Obama states governed by Republican legislatures and executives) — essentially “stealing the White House one gerrymander at a time“. This is something we’ve written about here at LGM, including my bit on the frequency with which such elections would be determined by the House if all 50 states adopted the CD model. Loomis was correct when he suggested that “This is THE political story of the next 4 years.”

According to the TPM story linked above, it looks as though four of the six states most likely to switch to the district model of distributing EC votes won’t. Virginia’s lost 11-4 in a full committee vote. “Key Republican officials” have spoken out against it in Ohio, Michigan, and Florida. That leaves Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Our pal Scott Walker is wavering, according to the TPM piece, and said “because Wisconsin is a battleground state, presidential and vice presidential candidates have an incentive to make repeated campaign stops here. He says he’s wary that changing the system could dissuade candidates from visiting.”

That leaves PA as the most likely of the bunch to convert to a district system. Given the Governor tried it in 2011, and PA has (I believe) the worst translation of votes into seats for its House delegation, I wouldn’t put it past PA to go in that direction. Pressure can still be brought to bear, both through publicizing the issue (it’s electoral theft, albeit constitutional electoral theft) and hopefully cooler heads in the Republican party, both in PA and nationally, will point out the blatant anti-democratic features of this plan.

But we might have won this one for the time being.

UPDATE: Lemieux beat me to it. I blame the two impromptu meetings in my office that happened between starting and finishing this post.

Comments (64)

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    I don’t think PA’s Governor is capable of not taking the low road.

    He’s an old school ratfecker, capable of adapting to new ratfeckin’ techniques.

  2. McKingford says:

    I keep coming back to this point, but I can’t help but think that one of the reasons this ploy is being abandoned is that it doesn’t actually work (and if it doesn’t work, the horrible optics aren’t worth it).

    Yes, this type of manipulation would have made it a closer election (as far as EVs are concerned – it otherwise WAS a close election). But it still would not have given Romney the win. The problem with this ploy is that although it makes the EV count much closer, it keeps it close (but result unchanged) even as the GOP vote creeps up to 50%. In short, in order for the GOP to win, it would *still* have to win states like Virginia and Ohio. And since it *has* to win those states, it doesn’t make any sense to give up any of the electoral votes to the Dems – you want the full bounty of all those states’ electoral votes.

    • mds says:

      Yeah, but Pennsylvania and Michigan have been pretty solidly blue at the Presidential level for a few cycles now. So shenanigans there could conceivably make a difference in a scenario where the GOP candidate has kept it close enough elsewhere. In other words, flip Virginia and Florida to the Romney column, and if Obama doesn’t get at least 20 of PA+MI’s 36 electoral votes, he loses.

      So what we’re seeing is people breathing sighs of relief as it goes down in places where it could actually be counterproductive for the GOP, even though it’s not yet DOA in the bluer states.

    • Red Jenny says:

      Winning (automatically, every cycle) 9 of Virginia’s 13 votes would be pretty good for the GOP. Winning most or even just a bunch of Penn, Wisc and Mich’s votes when no GOP candidate actually wins those states would help too. It wouldn’t be too unlikely for the GOP to win Ohio in 2016 or 2020 (assuming a credible candidate and a competitive election nationwide) so splitting the vote there might be counterproductive, depending on how big a slice the GOP can guarantee for itself 8 years down the road. But taking all these big and medium states that the Democrats won handily in 2008 and 2012 (and some even in 2004)and banking most of their votes for the GOP in 2016 and 2020 while leaving the red states winner-takes-all seems like a strong move to me, if they could pull it off.

  3. Mark Jamison says:

    North Carolina’s Republican legislature is likely to try the same thing. Gerrymandering here was probably as bad as anywhere. The state is pretty solidly purple now and will become increasingly blue due to demographics.

  4. Icarus Wright says:

    I think they’re only temporarily shelving the idea; Michigan governor Rick Snyder is saying it’s not the right time, leaving little doubt this issue will reemerge shortly before the 2016 election cycle begins.

    • Anon21 says:

      I really don’t see how waiting until the election is closer at hand and media scrutiny is greater would be likely to help them get it done without running their brand even further into the gutter and losing the relevant statehouses. Any State in which it isn’t done this year probably will not do it at all.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        Midterm elections.

        Do it now, get targeted by everything the Democrats have in 2014.

        Do it in 2015 and there’s a lot less personal political liability.

        • Anonymous says:

          You think Snyder and Corbett and Scott will be re-elected? You think Cucinelli will win in Virginia?

          • mds says:

            Well, if Snyder or Corbett lose, they can always join with their respective legislatures in giving the finger to the electorate and ram the changes through in the lame-duck session. And unless Democrats also gain control of the heavily-gerrymandered state legislatures in both places, any change wouldn’t be reversible by Democratic governors.

            • Don K says:

              Right. My guess is that the MI Reps will do this one as another lame-duck surprise (like RTW), and include an appropriation in the bill so it can’t be put on hold pending a referendum, et voila, a guaranteed 9 EVs (or 11 if they want to be really evil and adopt the proposed Virginia rules).

          • drkrick says:

            The Virginia Governor race has gone to the losing party in the Presidential race 9 times in a row – since 1977. On the other hand, Cucinelli has wasted a lot of time and money on wingnutty stuff that may not have resonated in and hills and hollers not to mention the blue parts of the state where most of the people are. I wouldn’t rule him out, but it depends on what kind of candidate Terry McAuliffe turns out to be.

      • rea says:

        Also, the present Michigan Legislature, though Republican controlled, is rather less wingnutty than the lame duck one that passed right-to-work (which is why that was passed suddenly in the lame duck session). Look for them to attempt this and other extreme stuff either in the lame duck session after the 2014 election, when they’re at minimum accountability, or if they’ve improved their position, in the next Legislature.

        • Icarus Wright says:

          A few additional points are worth mentioning here:

          1) The plan for screwing around with the states’ electoral college vote apportionment is a top-down (RNC) endeavor. GOP state congressmen are perfectly aware of this and its doubtful this simultaneous rejection across states are independent acts.

          2) Save only rich white men, the GOP is losing every voter demographic there is. The very future of the Republican Party is at stake; given that, it is silly naive to assume they won’t make every effort to remain a viable party.

          3) The GOP’s insanity has been evident for years. They won’t/can’t change. They’ll probably explore various “messaging alternatives” in an effort to halt their bleeding constituency, but on substance they’ll remain the same.

          • liberal says:

            The GOP’s insanity has been evident for years.

            IMHO at least as far back as 1994. Occasionally you’ll see commenters on blogs imply it’s more recent than that, which seems strange.

            • Malaclypse says:

              IMHO at least as far back as 1994.

              I’m old enough to remember Secretary of the Interior Watt assuring himself that Jesus would return before the last tree was cut down, and ketchup is a vegetable, and winnable nuclear wars, and the Menace that was Grenada, and Anne Gorsuch not being willing to admit that the purpose of the EPA was to protect the environment.

              The crazy is multi-generational now.

              • Uncle Kvetch says:

                Secretary of the Interior Watt assuring himself that Jesus would return before the last tree was cut down

                And that having the Beach Boys playing a July 4 concert on the Mall in DC would attract “the wrong element.”

                [Mal & Unc sit on piano bench, sing "Those Were the Days"]

                • DrDick says:

                  Hell, I am old enough to remember when they were still sane. Mal is right though, Reagan really did usher in the crazy, though it did not really become widespread and dominate the party until Gingrich and his motley crew of proto-teabaggers.

              • liberal says:

                I wouldn’t disagree—I’m only stating that 1994 is an obvious upper bound, not necessarily a sharp one.

            • drkrick says:

              Somewhere between 1980 and 1992, a significant chunk of the GOP decided that Democratic election victories were by definition illegitimate. I’m not sure exactly when and how it happened, although the conflation of God and the GOP by the Falwell/Robertson/Land axis starting with the 1980 campaign probably had something to do with it.

          • rea says:

            I supect that there are quite a few Republican congresspeople who are not fond of this plan. Their seats are relatively safe–but in order to get majority Republican congressional delegations out of states where the popular vote is majority Democratic, there has to be significant blocks of Democratic voters in their districts–their majorities are more 60-40 ratehr than 90-10. A plan that nationalizes the election in their districts, that leads to big Democratic money being spent and multiple presidential candidate visits, will make some of those seats look a lot less safe.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Loomis was correct when he suggested that “This is THE political story of the next 4 years.

    Yeah, I appreciate that you guys got on this story so quickly, but I’m not so sure how this story fizzling out really supports that statement.

    • John says:

      Indeed. The fact that it’s looking increasingly less likely to happen doesn’t really support the idea that this is the story of the next four years.

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        Less likely to happen now doesn’t necessarily mean less likely to happen in 2016. People will need to be alert as that election approaches.

        • John says:

          Sure, but this is beginning to feel to me like a dog that won’t bark. In PA, we should have a Democratic governor after 2014, so it’s probably now or never.

    • Njorl says:

      It might be fizzling now, but it could come back in 2015. There isn’t really any benefit to pissing people off now. And, as others have indicated, it’s hard to predict in which states this would be a useful tactic 4 years out.

      As a precursor, we might see more attempts at non-standard redistricting. If Republicans do well in 2014, they might attempt more egregious gerrymandering to set up situations where electoral vote splitting in a few states might make a critical difference.

      Doing this sort of thing in FL or NC is probably a bad idea for Rs under any circumstances – at best making an unwinnable election closer, but doing it in PA or MI could conceivably be a critical component of stealing an election.

      • Anon21 says:

        It might be fizzling now, but it could come back in 2015. There isn’t really any benefit to pissing people off now.

        But there’s a benefit to pissing people off when it’s likely to provoke DNC and presidential campaign targeting of governor’s races and state legislative elections, and the public will be more tuned in to shenanigans having to do with the presidential election? Your logic escapes me.

        • McKingford says:

          I think the point is that if you do it now, you risk a full out counter-assault by the Democratic Party in 2014, which could lead legislatures changing hands and the Dems reinstating the existing rules prior to 2016.

          If you wait until 2015, you ensure the changes stay in place at least for the 2016 presidential election.

          • mds says:

            Indeed. Many gubernatorial elections are conducted in off-years, and there are frequently state senate seats which are up in a staggered pattern. 2014 is going to be a major state election year, so why rile people up in advance? As McKingford notes, they can change it in 2015 if things go well for them, and it will be impossible to reverse for 2016. Sure, it will get people upset, but what are they going to do about it? Start voting in other congressional districts? (Swing districts might be flipped by popular revulsion, but 2012 demonstrated that too many districts still aren’t swingy enough.)

            As rea suggested above, the likeliest time for this to be resurrected will be 2014 lame-duck sessions, just as the 2012 lame-duck session was flagrantly abused in Michigan to implement an agenda that wouldn’t have passed in 2013. Sure, Pennsylvania’s egregiously gerrymandered legislature might be less batshit Republican. Sure, the governor-elect might be a Democrat. Big whoopty-do. If need be, they’ll ram it through in the dead of night with the doors locked, wrapped in American flags and squealing about liberty, democracy, and Jeebus the whole while.

            • Anonymous says:

              Damn straight.

              Just wait, this is only a very temporary retreat for us.

              It’s coming…

              • sharculese says:

                Your resistance to recognizing any defeat gets more and more adorable every day.

                I mean, yeah, there was a time when I was scared that some of the things you liked to bleat about might come true, but you’ve pretty much proven yourself to be a silly little fart in the face of a powerful wind, and I take great comfort from that.

                • Anonymous says:

                  We control the state legislatures, which controls congressional districts, and control how EVs are counted, among other things.

                  The stone-cold lock we have on state and local governments thanks to the Tea Party in 2010 is in some ways far more powerful than having the presidency…and Democrat base voters are either too lazy to vote in non presidential years or, even more commonly, too stupid to realize there are off-year elections.

                • sharculese says:

                  he stone-cold lock we have on state and local governments thanks to the Tea Party in 2010 is in some ways far more powerful than having the presidency…

                  And those grapes were probably sour, too.

                  Do you work at sounding this desperate?

                • Willard "Mitt" Romney, SuperGenius says:

                  The stone-cold lock we have on state and local governments thanks to the Tea Party in 2010 is in some ways far more powerful than having the presidency

                  That is what made me the perfect candidate.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Can you say “right to work” in Indiana and Wisconsin? And the decimation of the public sector Union Parasites in Wisconsin? How about a RECORD number of laws against abortion passing all around the country cracking down on the bloody abortion mills? Hmm?

                • sharculese says:

                  We get it kiddo. You were so certain you had the election wrapped up, and your arguments turned out to be not only wrong, but idiotic. That’s a harsh blow, and you need something to comfort you.

                  But this… this is just sad. Maybe you should find a hobby?

                • spencer says:

                  “Union parasites?”

                  Those people are our neighbors. They want exactly what we all want, which is fair compensation for the important work that they do.

                  You’re a fucking scumbag, and I feel so sorry for anyone who ever has to interact with you in real life.

                • DrDick says:

                  On a related note, has anyone who said ‘this is a republic, not a democracy’ ever had anything resembling a point?

                  Yes. On top of their tiny, empty head.

              • mds says:

                Moi:

                the likeliest time for this to be resurrected will be 2014 lame-duck sessions, just as the 2012 lame-duck session was flagrantly abused in Michigan to implement an agenda that wouldn’t have passed in 2013.

                If need be, they’ll ram it through in the dead of night with the doors locked, wrapped in American flags and squealing about liberty, democracy, and Jeebus the whole while.

                Conservatroll:

                Damn straight.

                Just so we’re clear, this is in response to outlining recent blatant subversions of democracy, with more possibly in the making. I’m beginning to wonder if drawing analogies with “Gott Mit Uns” belt buckles would be too far for our resident crepey wingnut.

                • Anonymous says:

                  We are a republic, not a democracy.

                  And National Socialism, like all forms of Socialism, was a creature of the left-wing.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  And National Socialism, like all forms of Socialism, was a creature of the left-wing.

                  And that’s why their policy of killing all the communists was so nefarious – it toughened them up, kind of like intramural sports.

                • Anonymous says:

                  They hated the Communists PRECISELY because they were so similar–same reason some of the bloodiest religious wars were between groups of Christians.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  They hated the Communists PRECISELY because they were so similar–same reason some of the bloodiest religious wars were between groups of Christians.

                  Keep fucking that walrus.

                • sharculese says:

                  They hated the Communists PRECISELY because they were so similar–same reason some of the bloodiest religious wars were between groups of Christians.

                  When all you have is failure, everything looks like an excuse.

                • mds says:

                  We are a republic, not a democracy.

                  And National Socialism, like all forms of Socialism, was a creature of the left-wing.

                  Hon, back in the day, trolling was an art form that involved trailing a line behind one’s boat as one navigated stealthily through the newsgroups. Flinging hunks of gelignite into the water isn’t even remotely the same thing, no matter what your sniggering unhygienic peers might have told you. Even old-school flamers had a better-developed sense of shame than that. So I’m begging you, try to pick up your game a little bit. Pretending to be a breathtakingly stupid reactionary asshole with a handful of your own shit to fling might seem fun to you now, but imagine how much more satisfying a serious long-term troll could be. C’mon, even you are better than this. I mean, you somehow found the “On” button on your computer.

                • Uncle Kvetch says:

                  So I’m begging you, try to pick up your game a little bit.

                  Got that right. Random right-wing mouth-breathers are a dime a dozen. We’ve got a barking loon who quotes Foucault now, fer chrissakes.

                • John says:

                  Okay, Nazis and Communists hated each other because they were so similar. Right. But why did conservatives love the Nazis? It wasn’t left-wingers who made Hitler Chancellor. It was a bunch of conservative monarchists.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  But why did conservatives love the Nazis?

                  The conservatives were heightening the contradictions, obviously.

                • Hogan says:

                  But why did conservatives love the Nazis?

                  Because they were so different. Duh.

                • spencer says:

                  And National Socialism, like all forms of Socialism, was a creature of the left-wing.

                  Yes, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a completely democratic republic. I mean, how could it not be? It’s right there in the name!

                • sharculese says:

                  On a related note, has anyone who said ‘this is a republic, not a democracy’ ever had anything resembling a point?

              • Willard "Mitt" Romney says:

                Just wait, this is only a very temporary retreat for us.

                Thank you for your kind words of support, my gender-confused friend. Now, a lesser man than I am might be bitter over the way you assured me that I was headed for an electoral landslide, but I know, with your support, that I can make my voice heard in Washington. Indeed, November was a victory, if only in principle, for all that we hold dear. And with the help of loyal supporters like you, Jennie, we can recreate that sort of victory in 2014, and 2016.

                • Woodrowfan says:

                  First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
                  Because I was not a Socialist.

                  Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
                  Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

                  Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
                  Because I was not a Jew.

                  Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

                  Martin Niemöller

                  so the NAZIs were socialists, so the first ones they went after were, the socialists?? oye.

              • Davis X. Machina says:

                Cue soundtrack, consisting of Lonnie the banjo boy from Deliverance playing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” from Cabaret….

              • Surreal American says:

                We are a republic, not a democracy.

                One does not necessarily preclude the other.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s not that hard to understand. An advantage in off year elections, gerrymandering, and control of major state governments are powerful, powerful tools and they do not portend the death of the GOP as some seem to think. Come on guys even Rachel Maddox understands this.

  7. Western Dave says:

    My guess is Corbett is telling the crazies on the right in Pennsylvania to go ahead and then he’ll kill their wackiest proposals and blame it on RINO John Perzel of Philadelphia (and currently jail) to them while positioning himself as a moderate for the general.

  8. sue says:

    Don’t count Wisconsin out just yet:

    (Update: Some have suggested Walker is “tempering” or has “backed-off” his support for rigging the electoral college, based on an article published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Jan 28. But the suggestion he changed his mind over the weekend is incorrect. Walker’s interviews with NewsMax and the Journal-Sentinel both happened within ten minutes of one another, on the same day, according to Journal-Sentinel reporter Craig Gilbert; the difference is that his statements to the former were published immediately, and the latter published two days later. In both interviews Walker expresses qualified support for the plan.)

  9. wengler says:

    This is good way to measure how independent the state parties are from the national party and who is owned by whom.

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